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The More Powerful Email Message

Posted by Michael Dolan on September 9, 2014 in Uncategorized |

Use this simple trick to examine your emails to see what your status is: count the number of “I” word you use and your correspondent uses.  Whoever uses the word more has a lower status, according to James Pennebaker, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin.

We tend to be more self conscious when talking to a person of higher status so we emphasize the “I” more.

See more and find the software to help you count words here:

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Talk the Walk

Posted by Michael Dolan on August 8, 2014 in Uncategorized |

             Even showing by example isn’t enough if you don’t articulate what you doing.  So says Bill Taylor in the latest edition of Harvard Business Review online.  He is the cofounder of Fast Company magazine.

            “The only sustainable form of business leadership is thought leadership.  And leaders that think differently about their business invariably talk about it differently as well,” he says.  Successful business leaders must “be able to explain, in language that is unique to their field and compelling to their colleagues and customers, why what they do matters and how they expect to win.”


See the whole article:



Don’t Expect “Think Data” to Disappear Anytime Soon

Posted by Michael Dolan on July 12, 2014 in Uncategorized |

Business jargon — no matter how ridiculed — always seems to survive.  Here’s some new buzzwords:

Think Data (more than the facts)

Digital Mesh (online service expanding to more

Surge Pricing (you can guess).

“The sad truth is that when most people hear someone using abstract language, they’re more likely to respect that person.”  This from Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.


People remain impressed with big abstract words.  Here’s a report from Inc.  Magazine:


For a list of business jargon to avoid (or use obsessively), look here:

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The Only Way to Ensure Tolerance is to Crush Unapproved Ideas

Posted by Michael Dolan on April 25, 2014 in Uncategorized |

College students, of course, are the most dangerous.  They are learning and exploring and oh so disrespectful of the social standards we have locked into place.

The latest transgression comes from Lewis Clark College.  A white student and an African American student, close friends were playing  an unidentified game.  According to reports, when the black one scored, he yelled “Team Nigga.”  When the white one scored, he yelled, “White power.”

They are suspected of laughing.  Somebody in the next room turned them in.

Campus living director Kelly Hoover and Associate Dean of Student Engagement Tricia Brand stated officially, “Your use of racially charged language, intentional or not, was reckless and created an environment where others in the space felt it was necessary to correct your behavior. More broadly, your actions caused reasonable apprehension of harm to the community.”  The students were reprimanded and put on probation.

Now that the student paper has shined a light on the incident, administrators have clammed up.

The students were disciplined for making fun of a rigid authoritarian mindset that is the basis of the disciplinary process.

Pure Orwellian.

Here’s the account from The Oregonian newspaper:

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Probably Funnier Than You

Posted by Michael Dolan on April 25, 2014 in Uncategorized |

Turns out I live in the 5th funniest city in the US, funnier than New York or Los Angeles.

That’s the news from University of Colorado Boulder.  Boston is the funniest, they report.  My Portland is #5.

“We found humor often has a local flavor,” said Peter McGraw, associate professor of marketing and psychology at the business school. “The jokes that get laughs at comedy clubs in Denver seem unlikely to fly with a cartoon editor at The New Yorker, for example. The kind of torturous game shows that some Japanese find amusing would likely fall flat to a sitcom producer in Los Angeles.”

More from McGraw: “Boston residents balance high-brow intellectualism with drunken rowdiness while Washington, D.C., finds humor in the absurdities of political systems. Portlanders are just plain weird.”

Hey!  Wait a minute.  We’re not weird.  We’re advanced.


See more at:

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Bottom Line Pro-active Team Player Thinks Outside the Box of Employment

Posted by Michael Dolan on March 26, 2014 in Uncategorized |

Hiring managers, in the brief opportunity they afford job seekers, say they are turned off by certain words on the resume.  After a survey of HR professionals, Careerbuilder determined the worse resume cliché is “best of the breed.”  Sounds bad to me.

Other turn offs include Hard worker, Strategic thinker, Dynamic, Self-motivated, Detail-oriented.  Instead, the career consultant company suggests thinking of your own fresh words to describe yourself.  It’s George Orwell Rule #1: Never use a combination of words you are used to seeing in print.

Learn more:


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Language in Conflict

Posted by Michael Dolan on March 24, 2014 in Uncategorized |

Here’s an illuminating essay that shows the Arab-Israeli conflict is now so encrusted with legend and bias, it’s almost impossible to discuss it effectively.

Jodi Rudoren, a New Times reporter, zeros in on whether an action is “retaliation” or “response.”

“This is part of what I have come to call “conflict code”: words whose plain English meanings are politicized, distorted or undermined in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, which is much more a clash of narratives than a tussle over territory.”

She continues: “It’s not just about journalism. As Secretary of State John Kerry tries to push forward a framework for a peace agreement this month, the precise language of the document may determine whether talks continue or break down.”

See the whole essay:

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Where the Words Come from

Posted by Michael Dolan on March 12, 2014 in Uncategorized |

Latin and French send more words to the English language than any other sources.  Maybe no big surprise.  But Swedish is big too.  And Japanese is on the rise.

This from Philip Durkin, Deputy Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, and author of Borrowed Words: A History of Loanwords in English.

More importantly, he has a fun interactive chart.  You can see the influences over the centuries. See it here:


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Posted by Michael Dolan on March 4, 2014 in Uncategorized |


Now we have “transphobic.”  This new word with no clear definition has been applied to a joke Ellen DeGeneres made at the Oscars, according to the Washington Post,

Transphobic” is obviously built on the more commonly used “homophobic.”  It means being against something about transvestites – or maybe people who have had a sex change operation.

It’s been accepted uncritically, even by the news media, so we have all gotten used to the word “homophobic.”  But it’s a sloppy word, paving the way, for sloppy derivatives such as “transphobic.”

Like many of our current political terms, homophobic first came to its current meaning in the transformative 1960s.  It combines the first part of “homosexual” with the medical terms for fear, “phobia.”

But it’s not now and never has had medical meaning.  At its root, the word is misleading.  People (conventional liberals) who use the word mean it to say those who speak out against homosexual behavior or same-sex rights do so as a symptom of a disease.

They don’t.  People who speak against same sex behavior or criticize it are just people with a different political view.  The word is not an accurate description.  It’s not an argument.  It’s a slur.  Applying the term “homophobic” to political opponents is designed to marginalize them and belittle their opinion.  The word does not promote communication.  It ends communication.

Liberals should instead say ….  Well, I don’t know what they should say because I don’t understand the meaning behind the slur.

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Diner Answers

Posted by Michael Dolan on February 18, 2014 in Uncategorized |


The other day, we blogged some traditional terms for ordering food in a diner.  Here’s what they mean:

1. Draw one!                            A cup of coffee

2. Gimme a shimmy!                An order of Jello

3. Side of French!                     French fried potatoes added

4. Mickey with a wreath!           Corned beef and cabbage

5. Mike and Ike!                        Salt and pepper

6. Chocker hole and murk!        Doughnut and coffee.

7. Arizona!                                A glass of buttermilk

8. Clean the kitchen, red lead!   Hash with catsup

9. One on the city!                     A glass of water

10. A Coney Island!                   One hot dog

11. Garibaldi!                             An Italian hero sandwich

12. BLT, hold the mayo!             Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich without mayonnaise.

13. Whistleberries and hounds, a pair!  Beans with two frankfurters.

14. Bossy in a bowl!                   Beef stew.

15. Stir two! Wheat!                    Scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast

16. Black and white!                    Vanilla ice cream in a chocolate soda or milkshake (sometimes also coffee with cream)

17. Straight Kelly!                       A glass of orange juice

18. Eighty-one!                          A glass of water

19. Novy on a B!                         Nova Scotia smoked salmon on a bagel

20. Adam and Eve on a raft         Poached eggs on toast


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